With its bright colors and showy, cluster-like or frilly flowers, Celosia is highly ornamental for the indoor or summer garden, blooming from mid-summer to early fall. Celosia is sensitive to frost and is best treated as an annual plant. Vibrant flower colors include orange, pink, red and green. Because of its distinctive appearance and unusual flowers, Celosia falls into the “love it or hate it” plant category.
Celosia also makes an excellent cut flower and is particularly popular in Japan, where a number of varieties have been developed for this purpose. Dried celosia flowers retain their color for at least six months. The height of the Celosia varies between 30 cm and 1 m depending on the variety, although the flower heads can be up to 30 cm long.
There are two distinctly different species of celosia: Celosia plumosa is known as plume, plume and Prince of Wales plume due to the upright and feather-like shape of its flowers. Celosia cristata is known as cockscomb because of its compressed, unusually shaped and twisted flowers.
How to Grow Celosia
Buy ready-grown plants in early summer or grow your own plants from seeds sown in spring. Grow in a warm, sheltered location that receives sun at least half the day. Keep the compost evenly moist and feed during flowering. Discard and compost the plants once flowering has finished.
Celosia do well as houseplant pots in a sheltered location such as a conservatory, porch or greenhouse, but preferably not in a centrally heated room. Grow outdoors in pots or in beds from early summer until frost. Celosias look best in groups or shoots and make good companions for other colorful plants with exotic looks, such as canna lilies and delicate salvias.
How to Plant Celosia
Celosias purchased in small pots may need to be repotted and grown into a larger container before planting. Use a high-quality, peat-free, multi-purpose compost and ensure that the top of the root ball is level with the surface of the compost. To grow celosia outdoors, first harden off the plants (acclimate them to the outside) for at least two weeks before planting them out in time after the last frost.